Head-turning looks with aerodynamic credentials, aggressive angles and clean, sharp lines make the Scott Contessa Foil a serious bike for contenders on the road. A high-end spec and race-specific modelling results in a strong off-the-peg bike with a price tag that’s not too outrageous, with the potential to upgrade.

Ride handling: Super responsive with explosive speed changes

For a true racer intent on getting the maximum speed out of a two-wheeled machine, it’s heartening to know that the carbon underneath you is designed with aerodynamics in mind.

The stiff back end is reliable when the pace suddenly changes, and responds quickly in a sprint. Rather than kicking out, like some carbon frames, the Contessa Foil sinks down into the Tarmac and shoots forward fast; a rider without race experience might be taken by surprise by its responsiveness. 

The Shimano Ultegra groupset is noticeably smoother during gear changes compared to 105.

Shimano’s high-performing Ultegra groupset offers sound value at this price point

In the hills the Contessa Foil maintains its form. The super-light frame – coming in comfortably under a kilo – makes quick work of an incline, although if you were regularly racing in the hills an upgrade on the wheelset might be advantageous.

Over longer distances, and when the road surface is less than perfect, the Foil certainly isn’t an armchair ride – you’ll feel most of the lumps and bumps of the road. But that’s surely to be expected of a true race-orientated bike, with a stiff frame fit for purpose.

On the drops and at speed on the flat this bike really comes into its own. The short head tube (120mm on the small-sized frame) forces you to ride low and flat.

In the wet the bike clings to the road and still hugs the corners, although it pays to be cautious and take it easy if you’re riding the Continental Ultra Race tyres that come as standard on this build.

Frame equipment: Truly aerodynamic design 

Scott’s Foil bikes are constructed around the company’s F01 technology, which uses a sculpted tube shape based on Kamm-tail design, frequently used in car bodies and now creeping into bike design – you’ll see something similar on Trek’s Speed Concept bikes. 

It uses smooth contours that continue to a tail that’s abruptly cut off. The structure reduces drag and, according to Scott, is stiffer than a traditional teardrop aero tube and more aerodynamic than a regular round tube.

Scott’s F01 technology means aero tubes sculpted into cut-off teardrop shapes

The Foil is pricey, and there’s no doubt about its target market. Everything about this frame screams racing speed. That combination of a short head tube and steep seat tube angle encourages that low, flat position on the bike that’s certainly not aimed at super long-distance riding.

The brake and gear cabling both disappear into the tubing at the front end and run internally, without interrupting the stunning clean lines of the black matte-finish aero HMF carbon fibre chassis. 

An integrated headset comes as standard, and even the seatpost clamp holding the Ritchey carbon zero-offset seatpost is integrated into the frame.

The tapered HMF NET carbon fork, with integrated carbon dropouts, is slightly straighter than on some comparable bikes, at 1 1/8in to 1 1/4in. But it nevertheless gives you the responsiveness you’d expect from a bike of this quality.

It’s refreshing to see a complete Shimano Ultegra kit on a women’s bike that retails at under £3,000 (US$3,500). This high-end groupset is responsive and, combined with the more race-focused 50/34-tooth chainrings and 11-28 rear block, suited to women’s race pace. 

An oversized bottom bracket channels power effectively from the cranks.

The Mavic Cosmic Elite wheelset is, perhaps, not the lightest (1.77kg for the pair) but with 30mm deep aero rims and bladed straight-pull spokes, they ooze aero quality. A total weight of 7.48kg (3.9lb) makes this bike a light women’s option.

Small details, such as the integrated direct-mount front derailleur, show Scott’s commitment to saving weight and making the Foil a race bike in the truest sense. Protective rubber sheaths stop cable rub and preserve the surface of the frame, so those dark good looks aren’t lost.

All in all, this is a highly specced bike, as befits its price.

article was originally published in Triathlon
magazine, available on Zinio.